Noun. The profound feeling of realising that everyone, including strangers we pass in the street, has a life as complex as ones own, which are they are constantly living despite ones personal lack of awareness.
If you were to ask me what my favourite word is, then it’s Sonder. It rolls off the tongue, it’s a little bit of a fun word to say and more than anything, it has a beautifully poetic meaning.
You see, we live in a world designed to make us selfish. We are taught from a very young age that we must secure a good education and we must have a high flying job so that we can be financially successful. We must go on to find the love we lost in past life, and we have children. We want the best car. We want the latest phone. We strive for popularity, basing some of our success on the number of followers. We might get a dog, because we decided that we wanted one. But we hardly ever stop and realising that everybody else around us is going through their own journey. We roll our eyes as somebody crams themselves into an already packed tube carriage, unaware that they are late to their chemo appointment. We judge the single mum of four struggling to make ends meet, oblivious to the past trauma of her sexual abuse.
We, as small fish in the big pond, are quick to defend ourselves, to stand up and voice our opinions, selfishly unaccepting of those trying to do the same. Cancel culture shows no signs of slowing down, yet many of us try to imagine what it would be like trying to defend ourselves to 30,000 tweets telling us to die. We live our lives completely unaware that every single person around us is just trying to do the same. None of us asked for this, nobody asked to be born or to exist in the society that has been created. Yet very few of us are quick to accept this.
This week is mental health awareness week, and the theme of 2020 is kindness. I cannot stress enough the important of kindness. We, as intellectual human beings, are quick to pick up on the vibes of those around us, to hear the tone in their voice or the sharp tongue of their words. We pick up on vibes without even physically realising that our brain is interpreting movements and actions. Every single day we are subconsciously taking onboard everything around us, like a big sponge. We reflect ourselves into the world every minute of every day.
Kindness is contagious. Hold the tube door open for the late arrival. Help the struggling mum with her pram on the stairs. Smile at the stranger and say thank you to the woman who held the door open for you. These tiny little acts of kindness are passed on and in turn, encourage further acts of kindness. We are 5 months into a year that has been completely turned upside down. Nothing is what any of us planned, and very little remains of the life we were living in the last decade. As 2020 rolled, I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that we would lose all sense of normality. I think now more than ever, in the wake of everything that has happened, we must rally together however we can and help ease the mental burden by simply being kind. You have no idea how much it can really help somebody in their otherwise dark world.
Every single day, over 200 people in the UK turn to google in order to find out how to kill themselves. 1 in 4 of us suffer from sometimes crippling mental health. The statistics are only rising in a world where more and more people are struggling to cope with the stripping of a routine that kept them moving through life.
Use this week to reach out to those around you, to throw a little compliment into the air, to make an effort to understand someone. It is so fundamental that we begin to accept that we must be a society of humans who support humans. Wars are never won single handedly, they are won when people come together to fight for a cause. Together, we can beat mental health. We can win the dark days. We can come out of this stronger and more united than ever before.